Bush intends to give $18.8m. to Palestinians

US President George W. Bush gave notice Friday that he intends to send $18.8 million in aid to help the security of the office of the Palestinian Authority chairman, as well as the Palestinian economy, humanitarian concerns and democratization efforts. The funds were part of a $468 million Palestinian assistance package initially put forth in July, but soon after that a law came into effect requiring more stringent reviews of money sent to Palestinians in light of the election last year of Hamas. Under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, the State Department now has to consult with Congress and the administration must certify that no part of the funding could end up in the hands of Hamas, designated by the US as a terrorist entity. "No significant objections were raised in the course of State's consultations with Congress," a White House official told The Jerusalem Post. Staff on foreign aid appropriations committees couldn't immediately confirm the statement after it was made late Friday afternoon. It is the first time any aid to Palestinians has gone through the new review process, according to the White House. The funds are separate - and the process different - from the recent allocation of $59 million to bolster training and equipping of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's presidential guard, the White House official said.